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City of Tallahassee traces gas smell back to tank at Hopkins Power Plant

The Leon County Health Department says one of its clinics on Old Bainbridge Road was safely evacuated after reports of a strong smell of gas in the area.
The Leon County Health Department says one of its clinics on Old Bainbridge Road was safely evacuated after reports of a strong smell of gas in the area.(WCTV)
Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 3:27 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - City of Tallahassee Natural Gas Utility Manager Stephen Mayfield says, in his 21 years of employment, Thursday’s gas odor was the oddest experience he’s ever had.

He says calls began coming in around 11 a.m. and the Tallahassee Fire Department began investigating.

Mayfield says it’s very unusual to have a widespread issue of this nature, with the smell permeating different parts of the city.

City utility teams followed the fire department, heading out to spots where the odor was reported, but in multiple cases, the odor was already gone by the time they had arrived.

Mayfield says the teams checked and re-checked the equipment, but the system itself was operating “perfectly fine.” Every city crew on duty was checking out the calls; about 50 came in regarding the issue.

Finally, the utility crews focused back where the gas levels were the highest, near the Hopkins Power Plant on Geddie Road.

They found that crews had moved an old, abandoned odorization tank that hadn’t been used in years and a very small amount of the odor escaped.

It was immediately contained and put in deodorization.

Mayfield says, even after it was contained around 2 p.m., crews were out until 9 p.m. checking every single spot where a call came in.

“We have a very good system,” Mayfield said. “To have that widespread of an issue was surprising.”

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